The Sharjah racing season is set for a fitting climax with the sixth and final meeting this Saturday.
The card features both the Sharjah Marathon and the biggest race of the campaign, the HH The Ruler Of Sharjah Trophy, a 1700m Prestige race for which 13 horses have been declared, including last year’s winner Mahfouz, the choice of jockey Tadhg O’Shea.
The five-year-old is one of three in the race for the Al Asayl team of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel.
Owner and jockey have combined to win the last four runs of the race, the two most recent saddled by Lemartinel.
O’Shea is seeking to win the race for the sixth time in seven years.
“Conditions obviously suit Mahfouz and he arrives here after a hard fought victory at Al Ain,” said O’Shea, “so he is in good form but this looks a very hot renewal.
“ES Ajeeb, who is owned and trained in Sharjah looks the one to beat but we will have to make sure he is not allowed an uncontested lead this time.
“Mulhim looked smart winning at Al Ain last week.”
Trained by Ibrahim Aseel, ES Ajeeb was well beaten on his debut over 1200m at Sharjah before winning a maiden by 19 lengths eight weeks later, over the same course and distance.
His only subsequent outing was also a victory on the Abu Dhabi turf in the Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1 over 1600m.
Sam Hitchcott is undefeated on the horse.
“He should stay the extra distance and we know he handles the Sharjah surface,” said Hitchcott, “so hopefully he has a lot in his favour and is the one the others have to beat.”
Trained by Helal Al Alawi for Yas Horse Racing Management, Mulhim won a 1400m Al Ain maiden last week by a staggering 22 lengths, on his debut for the yard.
He will again be ridden by Richard Mullen.
“That was only his second local start last week and it was the first time I had ridden him,” said Mullen.
“He was impressive undoubtedly but this is a lot stronger race on Saturday.
“He is clearly in good heart, but ES Ajeeb looks a big danger to us all.”
Half an hour later 10 runners are set to take their chance in the Sharjah Marathon, a fitting finale to the Sharjah campaign.
Among the contenders is The Secret, winner of the race in each of the last two seasons for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum who has owned the winner five times in a race first contested in 2010 and not run in 2012.
The mount of Hitchcott, he has registered all five career victories at Sharjah and is trained by Doug Watson.
“He certainly saves his best for Sharjah and conditions are obviously fine for him,” said Watson.
“He seems in good form at home so with luck he will produce another big performance on his favourite track.”
Again Al Asayl have three runners with O’Shea opting to partner Ifraaj, both of whose victories were achieved at Al Ain, over 2000m, in January 2017.
Runner-up in three of his four most recent starts, once at Sharjah, he has been running consistently.
“We know he stays 2000m well and hope the longer trip will suit him. It is always a strong race and this year is no exception,” said O’Shea.
On his penultimate, start Ifraaj chased home AF Abahe who was completing a rapid hat-trick over 2000m at Sharjah.
Trained by Ernst Oertel for champion owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, he has disappointed in two subsequent starts at Al Ain, where he has won twice and including just last week.
The weights are headed by Shivan OA, a winner over 2200m on the turf at Abu Dhabi in November but yet to win, after nine attempts, on dirt.
Having his first look at Sharjah, he will be ridden by Pat Cosgrave for Helal Al Alawi.
With just a few days until the third edition of the popular Beach Run event returns in Dubai, we’ve put together our combined best pre and on-the-day running tips no matter what distance you’re tackling in the non-timed event.
These are applicable to avid runners or those of you who are lacing up your trainers for the first time this Friday (February 23). If you’ve not signed up yet, you still have time: www.beachrundxb.com
Here’s our six top tips:
Don’t eat anywhere you wouldn’t normally before you start running and consume breakfast at least two hours before you begin to avoid any stomach upset. Keep things simple with things like fresh fruit, porridge oats and regular cereal.
We are still in February but noticeably the temperature has gone up a few notches over the past week or two. The Beach Run is a nice and early start to kick-off your weekend so it shouldn’t be too hot, but still, drink plenty of water before, during and after your run to stay hydrated. You can also mix it up with an electrolyte drink ahead of and during the run, with a protein shake after to aid muscle recovery.
Runners will take part in a mass warm-up before each of the three races so make the most of this to ensure your body is ready for running! It’s also vital to stretch, twist, bend and rotate so you’re feeling nice and loose. Specifically, you want to target your hamstrings, quads, calves and glutes as well as stretch out your hips.
HOW DO YOU RUN ON SAND?
Running on sand compared with a soft spongy track, hard road surfaces or even a treadmill is a completely different experience and feeling. There is perhaps a school of thought that running on sand isn’t good for your body but that’s not the case. It actually helps strengthen your ankle joints and general flexibility. Try and keep nice and light on your feet – and not run too much on your heels and you’ll enjoy it.
HAVE A BALL!
Most importantly, just enjoy the event – whatever distance you’re running. Have fun with friends and family, soak up the atmosphere in the race village afterwards and take some photos for social media – posing with your medals! Make sure you get the iconic Burj Al Arab in the backdrop, too! If you are new to running, hopefully the Beach Run has helped you find a new passion!
I’ve touched on this but stretch out and keep moving immediately after you stop running, resist the urge to sit down and stay stationary as this can make you feel some cramp. Get some fluids on board and a post run snack.
Played in very still and unseasonably hot weather first up was the much anticipated clash between last year’s Grand Finalists the Multiplex Bulls and Dubai Dragons.
Every year and every match this rivalry goes up another level and Friday’s battle did not disappoint.
The first quarter as usual was tight with both teams forced into errors around the ground but the Dragons took a slight seven point lead into the second quarter.
The Dragons started the second quarter firing and jumped to a five goal lead thanks to Jake Kane and Travis Hayward in the midfield but as they always do the Bulls fought back with two late goals from Ted Stobart and captain Nathan Holly
It was one way traffic in the third quarter with the Dragons regaining their five goal lead as the tall forward Daniel Gribbin started to find some space.
Bulls full back George Rahhal was sensational all day and managed to keep the Dragons danger forward Ryan Perkins to just one goal.
The last quarter was goal for goal early on but then the Bulls made their usual late charge bringing the game within three goals, however they were beaten by the siren with Dragons winning 17.9.111 to Bulls 14.9.93
In the later game the Falcons from the capital were convincing winners against the Dubai Dingoes 29.9.153 to 5.6.36 with Zac Moon the star kicking eight goals.
It has been a season to forget for the Dingoes but they are confident they will bounce back in 2018/19 with a strong summer of recruiting.
The final home and away games take place on Friday March 2. The Dubai Dragons will travel down to Abu Dhabi to take on the Falcons while the Dingoes will host the Bulls in Dubai.
This final round will lead into the Grand Final on March 16 out at The Sevens Stadium, which is set to be a repeat of last year’s decider: another epic encounter between the Bulls and Dragons.
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